BRANDS AND RETAILERS
The Future 100 predictions for 2018 highlight sustainability: Research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence has released The Future 100: 2018 report, subtitled “Trends and change to watch in 2018”. The report provides a forecast for multiple sectors, but it’s the retail and luxury sections that are of most interest for the issue of sustainability. Retail: i) #68 Reuse rebranded – “Second-hand shopping is becoming a seamless, often luxurious experience. Consumers want to extract value from their designer purchases, and, on a more mass level, are looking to move away from cheap, throwaway fast-fashion purchases and extend the life cycle of clothes”; Luxury: i) #71 The luxury of lifestyle – “Outerknown, the Kering-backed brand built around Kelly Slater’s surfing lifestyle, has sustainability at its core. Matuse, a California-based wetsuit and apparel brand with an “art + function” tagline, makes wetsuits from limestone-derived geoprene, claimed to be 98% water impermeable and more sustainable than traditional petroleum-based neoprene”; ii) #74 Cause luxury – “Palestyle, a luxury handbag line from the United Arab Emirates, with embroidery hand-stitched by female refugees…”; iii) #75 Lab-grown luxury – “Sustainability, formerly regarded as antagonistic to everything luxurious, is now taking on luxury connotations itself. Innovating in sustainability is becoming viewed as intelligent and aspirational, precisely the values that luxury brands try to convey in their messaging [e.g., Modern Meadow, Bolt Threads, Stella McCartney]” (Dec). You can download the report here (PDF).
Reformation secures another $25m in funding: LA-based sustainable label Reformation has raised $25M in Series B funding led by Stripes Group, 14W and Imaginary Ventures, the venture capital firm formed by Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet and Nick Brown (19 Dec).
Eileen Fisher and Nest on the drive for transparency in fashion: An article in Forbes, by Ashoka (he largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, consisting of an interview with Rebecca van Bergen, Founder & Executive Director at Nest, and Luna Lee, Human Rights Leader at Eileen Fisher, about the risks of home-based work, gender equity, compliance in the artisanal sector, and scalable social impact in the creatively and economically important fashion trades (18 Dec).
Fashionkind’s Nina Farran on style, storytelling, and sustainability: A profile piece on Nina Farran, the founder of Fashionkind, a website “for consumers who don’t want to sacrifice their style for their standards.” Her trajectory is interesting: entrepreneurship, big fashion and equity research (18 Dec).
The real problem with Nike’s ripping NBA jerseys: Clothing made from recycled bottles, like the NBA’s new jerseys, may not be so great for the environment. [Ed’s note: In case you don’t follow American basketball, during October and November, Nike’s new NBA jerseys made headlines for ripping apart as players wore them during games. There was media speculation over whether the weakness was the result of the Alpha Yarns and recycled bottles from which Nike made the jerseys.] There is growing evidence that clothing and shoes made from recycled bottles may not be the environmentally friendly option its claimed up to be (18 Dec).
Improvement plans of the clothing industry are still inadequate, says analyst: An analysis of the first report from the Sustainable Clothing and Textile Covenant (Convenant Duurzame Kleding & Textiel), which was developed by the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER – Sozialwirtschaftlicher Rat der Niederlande) and launched in July 2016, shows that only 18 per cent of the signatories have a detailed plan to combat abuses such as child labour and modern slavery and to offer employees a living wage and a safe workplace. 65 Dutch companies have signed the Covenant, including Bijenkorf, Zeeman, C&A and Hema. One example cited shows WE Fashion purchased goods from a factory in Myanmar, where two men were fired because they wanted to start a trade union and where sympathizing colleagues were intimidated. WE Fashion says the issue was resolved (18 Dec – in Dutch).
Utah lawmaker invites retailer Patagonia to testify in Congress: The U.S. House natural resources committee chairman on Friday invited outdoor retailer Patagonia’s CEO Yvon Chouinard, to testify before the panel after the company criticized the Trump administration’s decision to drastically reduce two national monuments in Utah (16 Dec).
Michael Kors commits to going fur-free in 2018: Michael Kors is going fur-free. The American announced last week it will no longer use animal fur in its products, with production being phased out by the end of December 2018. The policy will apply companywide, including the Jimmy Choo brand, which Kors acquired in July (15 Dec). [Ed’s note: See story below about anti-fur protests targeting Canada Goose.]
Despite massive profits, big fashion brands refuse to pay workers after factory closures, says NGO: Clean Clothes Campaign says, “Starting 14 December, garment workers and activists unite in global actions against wage theft. Over the next week, while holiday shoppers across the world peruse apparel stores, they may also discover messages from garment workers seeking help. The message to consumers reads: “I made the item you are about to buy but I didn´t get paid for making it”. The notes are from workers in Indonesia, Cambodia and Turkey who are all owed money for making clothes for famous industry giants including Zara, Mango, Next, Uniqlo, Adidas, Mizuno, M&S, Bonmarche and Nygard” (14 Dec). [Ed’s note: See #EndWageTheft campaign directly below.]
NGOs launch #EndWageTheft campaign in lead up to Christmas: Three NGOs – Clean Clothes Campaign, Labour Behind the Label and Stitched UP UK – have launched a campaign in the lead up to Christmas under the banner of “ending wage theft by fashion industry giants”, including Zara, Mango, Next, Uniqlo, Adidas, Mizuno, M&S, Bonmarche and Nygard. The campaign calls for supporters to follow and share #EndWageTheft on Facebook and Twitter, or to print out and place tags – such as this one – on branded clothing in stores, followed up by a picture posted online (14 Dec).
Climate change activists launch campaign against Levi Strauss & Co.: Environmental NGO Stand wants Levi’s to be a fashion industry leader in protecting the climate by reducing pollution, transitioning to renewable energy in supply chain. Climate activists with the “Too Dirty to Wear” campaign flash mobbed Levi’s flagship store on Thursday afternoon in San Francisco, removing their jeans in a show of protest against the iconic company’s climate pollution impacts (see here) (13 – 14 Dec).
You buy free range-eggs. So why are you still wearing dirty denim? The article is about how Outerknown worked with Levi’s to produce environmentally clean denim through the Wellthread collection. One interesting quote: ““I think people know what it looks like to cultivate a garden and to pick fruit or vegetable out of the garden and eat it. That’s a very familiar process,” said Paul Dillinger, the Vice President and Head Global Product Innovation and Premium Collection Design for Levi’s. “People have no idea what it looks like to grow a cotton field, and to harvest that cotton, to gin it and spin it, to weave it and dye it. We think about cotton as a friendlier thing because it’s a weed that we grow, and it can be friendlier. But no one in their mind visualizes flood irrigation happening on a massive scale in order to grow all this cotton. They don’t think of the jean they’re buying as 3,700 liters of fresh water”” (14 Dec).
C&A honoured with Eco 2017 Award in Brazil: C&A was a big winner at the Eco 2017 Award in Brazil last week for its use of sustainable cotton and its monitoring of the supply chain. The Award is sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce and the Estadão newspaper (O Estado de S. Paulo – State of São Paulo) (14 Dec).
PETA mounts Twitter campaign against Canada Goose: The hashtag #CanadaGooseKillsDay, launched by PETA as an attack on Canada Goose last week over its use of coyote fur and goose feathers, gained traction on Twitter (14 Dec). In related news, a UK judge says antifur lobby can protest outside Canada Goose store (17 Dec), a decision that quadrupled the number of protesters allowed outside the company’s newly-opened store in London. Canada Goose secured an injunction when it opened its flagship shop in Regent Street last month. The judge also ruled activists should be permitted to use loud hailers between 2pm and 8pm, effective from 19 December (18 Dec).
2018 Circulars nominate 43 change makers paving the path to a circular future: The Circulars are awarded to individuals, companies (from start-ups to multinationals) and public and social organizations in recognition for their contributions to the circular economy. From the apparel and textile industry, the following have been nominated: Evrnu (revolutionary chemical regeneration technology that is changing the way textile waste is leveraged); Levi’s (for jeans made from regenerated post-consumer cotton waste); C&A (first Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold garment in the fashion industry); Bureo (from Chile, recycling fishing nets into products used by partners including Patagonia); H&M Foundation (Global Change Award); H&M (for its recycling); Vigga (maternity and kid’s wear that expands as children grow); Vaude (products made with recycled materials) (13 Dec). [Ed’s note: Of the 43 nominations, eight are associated with the apparel and textile industry, or 18.6 per cent.]
Kering’s Marie-Claire Daveu shares why sustainability matters in fashion: For Marie-Claire Daveu, Chief Sustainability Officer and Head of international institutional affairs at Kering, luxury and sustainability are inseparable. “Kering has been working with the National Resources Defense Council and its suppliers since 2014 on Kering’s Clean by Design program to improve water and energy efficiency at textile mills. Part of the plan was a resource efficiency audit by plant, resulting in more than 150 energy and water efficiency improvements with an average 2.5 year’s return on investment. Kering is implementing a 100% phase-out of fossil fuels, and the program has already resulted in an average 12% reduction in CO2 emissions per textile mill” (13 Dec).
H&M seeking circular approaches: From H&M Foundation’s Global Change Award 2018, a €1 million innovation prize searching for new circular approaches to clothing to CO:LAB, a venture capital fund to invest in the most promising early stage start-ups encountered throughout the company’s many circular economy endeavours, H&M is increasingly been seen at the forefront of circular economy initiatives (13 Dec).
Scottish brand’s sustainable approach to heritage design: Scottish brand Le Kilt, whose clothes have revolved around traditional kilts and hand-made knitwear, has ventured into denim, creating a line with entirely raw and unwashed denim – to reduce the abundant water waste that goes into most denim production – and each piece is hand-finished and made to last (13 Dec). [Ed’s note: This article is from Vogue UK, and started with the following lead: “There is a new era of sustainability in fashion. No longer is such a word exclusively associated with hand-hewn hemp or hessian sacking…” Companies working on sustainable fashion deserve better than this.]
Luxury shoes going vegan: According to global research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence’s latest The Future 100: 2018 report, vegan fashion will be a major trend for 2018, particularly in the luxury sector. (12 Dec). You can download the report here (PDF). [Ed’s note: This article from Forbes contrasts the old guard and the new, with Jimmy Choo an example of the former, relying on reptile and snake skins that are not only anathema to animal loves but also degrading the environment, and brands such as Stella McCartney and Mink Shoes as examples of the latter, using vegan and environmentally friendly alternatives. Note: The Future 100: 2018 does not mention Jimmy Choo or Mink Shoes, nor does it overtly state luxury shoes are going vegan. See summary above of the report’s actual content.]
Adidas, M&S among companies calling for climate action: 54 companies, with annual revenues of $795.41 billion, have called for a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, an “adequate” price on carbon and more transparency over the threat climate change poses to the financial system. The list of companies included Adidas and Marks & Spencer (13 Dec). See the letter and full of signatories here.
Halow+ project for RMG workers in Bangladesh launched: CARE International has launched the second phase of the HALOW [Health Access and Linkage Opportunities for Workers] project in Bangladesh with a view to helping more garment workers solve their health problems. The three-year-long second phase has been named “HALOW+” and will be implemented on 15 readymade garment factories in Savar, outside the capital, in association with GlaxoSmithKline and Marks & Spencer (07 Dec).
REPORTS, GUIDELINES AND STANDARDS
Children stitch shoes for global market in India’s tourist magnet Agra: Thomson Reuters Foundation reports: “children as young as eight miss school and toil in hazardous conditions to make shoes for the global market in Agra, the city of the Taj Mahal, campaigners said, calling on shoe brands to work with the local government to clean up their supply chains” (19 Dec).
SustainAbility releases new report on setting, tracking and integrating high-impact sustainability goals: Consulting firm SustainAbility has released a report titled Targeting Value: Setting, Tracking & Integrating High-Impact Sustainability Goals, which is says “provides clear insights on the value to business of setting, pursuing, achieving and reporting on sustainability goals. The report also presents current best practices for ensuring goals deliver maximum business value and broader societal impact” (Dec). You can download the report directly here (PDF). [Ed’s note: I’m including the report in FSWIR because GreenBiz has an interesting article based on one area of focus in the report, i.e., water. See GreenBiz story directly below.]
What corporations are missing about water goals: Water has become a major sustainability issue in the fashion, apparel and textile sectors, and GreenBiz used the new SustainAbility report (see directly above) to make an important point: “A collaboration between several of the world’s leading water experts is promoting a more rigorous context-based approach to setting water targets. CDP, the U.N. Global Compact CEO Water Mandate, the Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund are calling for a new approach to setting corporate water targets reliant on local context and informed by the best available science. This approach is intended to help eliminate bias from decision-making and prioritization, while improving reliance on common language and key performance indicators (KPIs) to support measurement and track progress of goal impacts” (15 Dec). [Ed’s note: The key message from GreenBiz, and SustainAbility (see story directly above), is that companies need to start thinking beyond internally focussed water goals alone.]
Are seafood lovers really eating 11,000 bits of plastic per year? The link between the fashion industry and water pollution via microplastics has been in the news a lot over the last year, with various claims getting lots of attention. One of those claims is that if you eat seafood, you could be consuming 11,000 bits of plastic per year. The BBC does a reality check on this figure, which concludes the figure is unrealistically high. That’s good news, but the bad news is if you eat seafood, then you’re still probably eating plastic (17 Dec). Interestingly, the day prior to this BBC story being published, the Vancouver Sun ran a story titled Microplastics abound in Sunset Beach water, which does not mention the statistic above (16 Dec).
Nordic brands shifting sustainability status quo: The Nordic region’s brands, retailers and designers are creating a new paradigm for making apparel that promotes the environment, rather than diminishing it (15 Dec).
Young Aussies chuck clothes after just one wear: New research says one in three Australians now throwing away clothes after wearing them just once (14 Dec).
ZDHC unveils Implementation Hub to help sustainability: The Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation, has launched its Implementation HUB which helps best practises of chemical and environmental management and accelerates impact along the value chains of the textile and other industries. ZDHC is a collaboration of brands leading the textile industry towards zero discharge of hazardous chemicals (13 Dec).
Is the end for polyester in sight? For the first time since its invention in the 1940s, there is a concerted effort to find alternative to polyester, the world’s most commonly used textile. Oranges, pineapples, bananas and laboratory-grown leather are among the many substitutes now on offer (13 Dec).
Study to identify source of textile microfibre pollution: A new project scheduled to kick off next year which tackles textile-related microplastics pollution has landed funding to the tune of SEK 6 million from apparel brands, white goods producers and the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS). Apparel brands involved in the project include Bergans, Boob Design, Fjällräven, Filippa K, Gina Tricot, Haglöfs, H&M, Peak Performance, Sustema [Ed’s note: one of GoBlu’s partners; see here], TPC Textile, and Y. Berger & Co. (13 Dec – subscription required to read full article). [Ed’s note: GoBlu is proud to be associated with Sustema, a consultancy group in Sweden that helps customers in sustainable development.]
French Fur Federation sets up help line for victims of anti-fur violence: With the resurgence of an anti-fur campaign globally, the French Fur Federation has created a dedicated centre for providing information on the fur industry called Le Centre National d’Information sur la Fourrure (CNIF – The National Centre for Information), and even a help line for victims of antifur violence. In response, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement declaring that it is “time for compassion” (12 Dec).
Garment and textile groups speak out against human rights violations in Myanmar: Industry groups and non-profits focused on the garment and textile sectors have spoken out against Myanmar’s treatment and displacement of Rohingya Muslims. 16 organisations, including Ethical Trading Initiative, Fair Labor Association, American Apparel & Footwear Association, and the Foreign Trade Association, have sent a joint statement to the president of Myanmar, Htin Kyaw, speaking out against the violence, attacks, and displacement against the country’s population of Rohingya Muslims, pointing out that the situation created threats to both the country’s population and its business climate (12 Dec).
Crude growth predicted oil use in textile sector: The rise and fall of black gold, a white paper published by research company Wood Mackenzie has raised questions about the textile industry’s role in future global oil consumption. Chemicals, such as those frequently used in the textile supply chain, have been forecast to account for nearly 20 per cent of global oil demand by 2035 – the year it earmarks as the point of peak oil demand (12 Dec – subscription required to read full article). You can download the full report and watch a short video here.
India rejects move to include non-trade issues in WTO: India has opposed efforts by developed countries to include issues like human rights, labour standards, gender and environment in global trade negotiations. Calling these subjects non-trade issues, India opposed any rule making on them in the World Trade Organization (WTO) (11 Dec).
UN resolves to end ocean plastic waste: At the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, more than 200 nations passed a resolution to eliminate plastic pollution in our seas. Although it’s not a legally binding treaty, it could pave the way to one. The resolution reaffirms the commitment under the UN Sustainable Development Goals to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution” (07 Dec).
Better Mill Initiative gains government support for expansion in Ethiopia: Solidaridad has announced the expansion of the Better Mill Initiative in Ethiopia. Currently, Solidaridad works directly with 12 local textile factories on cleaner production and decent work. Solidaridad has the ambition to reach 74 factories by 2020 with direct technical support and indirect support such as peer-to-peer sessions, industry workshops and knowledge exchange sessions between factories. The Better Mill Initiative has received approval from the Ethiopian government and the Ethiopian Textiles and Manufacturers Association, which is crucial for the programme's success (07 Dec).
Indian textile manufactures looking to reduce emissions: The Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) in India has identified textile manufacturing as one of the sectors with the potential to reduce emission levels by using better technology. Gautam Goswami, who heads the TIFAC Technology Vision 2035 said last week, “We met about 50 people and 40 per cent of them were from the industry … We are looking at how to go for textile processing with lesser water and more automation” (16 Dec).
Green innovation from Italian button maker: Metalbottoni is a pioneer in cleaner production and continues to pursue green innovation, having put into effect a ‘No Impact’ protocol in 2011, involving all aspects of the production processes. The Italian button producer has reduced synthetic chemical products and developed production cycles that have a low environmental impact. Other sustainable solutions have been developed, resulting in reducing CO2 emissions, obtaining energy from a photovoltaic plant (solar park) which provides at least 45 per cent of its energy requirements combined with water saving steps. One interesting initiative with a brand – Swedish denim brand Redew8 – is a button made entirely from recycled copper (14 Dec). [Ed’s note: This is the first article FSWIR has seen on a button manufacturer and sustainability.]
Super bacteria could soon be eating China’s factory waste: In a Hong Kong laboratory, researchers are working with one of the world’s biggest cloth makers to improve its production process using a special ingredient: bacteria. TAL Apparel, which has factories in mainland China and Southeast Asia, has teamed up with City University of Hong Kong to identify bacteria that can clean up more efficiently the vast quantities of waste water the textile industry produces. It’s one of hundreds of efforts by China’s private and state-owned companies to fix a problem that could end up rewriting the playbook of the global fashion industry (13 Dec). [Ed’s note: It is interesting to note this further down in the article; ““We talk about social responsibility, but people are not willing to pay for it,” said TAL’s chairman Harry Lee.”]
Ethical Fashion Show Berlin and Greenshowroom create “Green Hub”: Ethical Fashion Show Berlin and Greenshowroom are partnering with FashionSustainBerlin and FashionTechBerlin to highlight innovative sustainable materials as well as certification processes and seals. To ensure integrity in the 16-18 January event, all exhibitors will need to pass specific sustainability checks. Among the sourcing exhibitors will be Texool, which upcycles waste fabric from the U.S. and Europe and converts it into yarn, Kanaka, which specializes in GOTS-certified eco-friendly dyeing, washing and bleaching practices, and Wet Green, which offers an environmentally friendly tanning agent made from olives plus a sustainable tanning method for leather (and is one of only five firms awarded a C2C certification at Gold level (12 Dec).
Cone, Lenzing and Unifi partner for Future Black+ denim with recycled materials: Fibre makers Lenzing and Unifi have teamed up with fabric mill Cone Denim to introduce Future Black+, a denim made with Unifi’s recycled fibres from Repreve and Lenzing Modal (07 Dec).
Artistic Milliners introduces sustainable indigo dye process: Pakistan denim mill Artistic Milliners hopes to reduce the amount of water, chemicals and energy it takes to get classic indigo blue by used Crystal Clear, a newly introduced process that the company is calling “the cleanest indigo dyeing process. Artistic Milliners has partnered with dye chemical maker DyStar and Dutch denim brand G-Star RAW to develop Crystal Clear, which uses 70 percent fewer chemicals and no salt in the dyeing process (07 Dec).
Lenzing and DL1961 announce the next generation in denim: DL1961 and Lenzing have announced a partnership to make DL1961 denim even more sustainable. Using Lenzing’s Refibra branded lyocell fibres, DL1961 will create a new denim blend that utilizes renewable wood sources and employs a supplementary proportion of recycled cotton scraps to create a garment that is sustainable and innovative (01 Dec).
THE SUPPLY CHAIN
Bangladesh now a model for workplace safety: “Bangladesh has become the model for workplace safety because of its heightened efforts in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse, said Srinivas Reddy, the outgoing country director of the International Labour Organisation” (17 Dec).
Cambodian migrants fare worst in mainland Southeast Asia, says study: A recent study conducted over one-and-a-half year by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has concluded migrant workers from Cambodia have the worst experiences, with eight in 10 experiencing labour rights abuses and more than two-thirds reporting mental or physical health problems upon return home. The study compared migrants from Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, finding workers from Cambodia are more likely to experience abuses and have health problems. An estimated 1.5 million Cambodians are currently working abroad, and Cambodian officials have publicly stated their intention to send even more (15 Dec).
Cambodian garment workers set up roadblock, blockade factory, over unpaid salaries: More than 200 workers from Gawon Apparel blocked the road in front of their factory during more protests last week to demand wages (14 – 15 Dec).
A Baseline Survey of Yangon’s Garment Sector Workforce: In May 2017, C&A Foundation commissioned Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation and Andaman Research & Advisory to study the garment sector workforce. C&A Foundation and its partners recognized there was a lack of a strong quantitative evidence on the demographics and economic standing of garment sector workers. The report seeks to provide a first step towards understanding who Myanmar garment workers are, their lives, and how organizations can work to empower them. (13 Dec). You can download the report here (PDF).
Minimum wage win for unions in Mauritius: Years of campaigning by trade unions in Mauritius have paid off as the government approves a new minimum wage package totalling 9,000 Mauritian rupees per month (US$257) from next year. It will be a significant increase for many workers, particularly those in the textile sector, some of whom were averaging only RS 4,000 (US$114) a month, according to unions (13 Dec).
Cambodian minimum wage law edges closer: A Labour Ministry official has said the law on the minimum wage will come into force in the first quarter of 2018, provided there are no more objections from stakeholders (13 Dec). [Ed’s note: From 1997 to 2017, the government increased the minimum wage in the garment sector from $30 per month to $153. From January, garment industry workers will be paid $170 per month.]
Bangladesh apparel skills development centre needs a boost, say analysts: The Centre of Excellence for Bangladesh Apparel Industry (CEBAI), an institute for skills development, should be nurtured further to help retain the country's position as one of the top garment exporters, analysts said last week. Up until November this year, the CEBAI was supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Sweden and H&M (13 Dec).